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Auto Parts Tycoon In Iran Charged With Major Corruption, Punishable By Death

Abbas Iravani (L) is a well-known business man and a major sponsor of religious activities in Iran, appearing in court. Undated

The representative of Tehran's Prosecutor has charged the manager of an auto parts manufacturing company in Iran with "corruption on Earth," punishable by death.

The man charged is Abbas Iravani, a renowned businessman, a close confidant of the ex-President of the Islamic Republic late Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and many other influential leaders, as well as an art collector. He is also a big benefactor to Shiite religious causes and organizer of religious events.

Iravani, the main shareholder of Ezam Automotive Parts, was charged with "Corruption on Earth" for "disrupting the Islamic Republic economy," "forming a gang for smuggling auto parts," and "paying bribes" to customs officers.

The magnate's first court session was held on Wednesday, October 2, where he is being tried along with six other suspects. Two of the suspects are managers of the companies owned by Iravani, and the other four are customs officers.

According to the Prosecutor's representative, under Iravani's supervision, the six had formed an extensive network for smuggling auto parts.

"Assisted by his network, Iravani managed to professionally and systematically smuggle $764 million of auto parts," said the Prosecutor's representative adding, "Iravani, one of the most influential figures in Iran's economic sector, has over thirty trillion rials (approximately $714 million) overdue debt to different banks."

Furthermore, Iravani is accused of illegally pocketing forty trillion rials (roughly $950 million) from the national treasury and paying more than four trillion rials (about $100,000 million) bribes, during the past decade.

Among the persons bribed, according to the prosecution, was the former chairman of Bank Melli (National) Iran, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, who is currently at large.

Khavari, 67, was involved in 2011 in more than $700 million of embezzlement. In 2005 he became a Canadian citizen. He is a fugitive and wanted by the Interpol as of October 2016.

Ezam Automotive Parts Group, managed by Iravani, consists of twelve large manufacturing companies and has been active in the auto parts industry since 1993. The group’s subsidiary companies located in Tehran, East Azerbaijan, Guilan, Alborz and Isfahan provinces manufacture auto parts for Iranian biggest car makers, Iran Khodro and SAIPA.

"The profit gained by the member groups amounted to four trillion rials (about $95 million) per year," the Prosecutor representative maintained.

Iran Khodro and SAIPA have both been mired in their own scandals in recent months, as prosecutors have charged several managers with large-scale corruption. Both companies owe billions of dollars to government-controlled banks. Lawmakers have said that SAIPA alone owes $2.8 billion to banks.

Iran Khodro is partnering with the French conglomerate PSA Peugeot Citroen.

From right to left: Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Sadegh Kharazi and Abbas Iravani, suspect of corruption presenting a rare Quran, undated.
From right to left: Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Sadegh Kharazi and Abbas Iravani, suspect of corruption presenting a rare Quran, undated.

Meanwhile, Iravani has been a leading sponsor of religious events and printing collector-grade Qurans. He has even bragged that his Qurans have been seen by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

He has also been active in other fields, such as collecting antiques, arts, and manuscripts, and running charities.

He has repeatedly been present at the inauguration of many national projects besides prominent Islamic Republic's top-class authorities.

Furthermore, according to Iravani, he had been active in renovation of Shi'ites' holy places in Iraq and assisting 18,000 Iraqi orphans with foodstuff and other commodities, all recommended by the Chief Commander of Qods Force, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier general Qassem Soleimani.